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ATI RADEON HD 5870 1024MB

The new 3D graphics king.

October 8, 2009



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Performance in games

Testbed:

  • Intel Core I7 CPU 920 (2,667 MHz) CPU
  • ASUS P6T Deluxe motherboard with the Intel X58 chipset
  • 3GB DDR3 SDRAM Corsair 1066MHz
  • WD Caviar SE WD1600JD 160GB SATA hard drive
  • Tagan TG900-BZ 900W PSU
  • Windows Vista 32-bit SP1, DirectX 10.1
  • Dell 3007WFP 30-inch monitor
  • ATI CATALYST 9.9; NVIDIA 191.00 drivers
  • VSync disabled

Benchmarks:

  • Far Cry 2 (Ubisoft) -- DirectX 10.0, shaders 4.0 (HDR), built-in benchmarking utility (the Middle level), maximum settings.
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky 1.509 (GSC Game World/THQ) -- DirectX 10.0, maximum quality settings (dynamic lighting enabled); demo, copy files to the savegames folder, run the game, load level 'ixbt4', and type "demo_play ixbt4" in the console. Maximum test settings (dynamic lights enabled). This game does not support AA.
  • 3DMark Vantage 1.02 (FutureMark) -- DirectX 10.0, shaders 4.0, multitexturing, 'Extreme' settings.
  • CRYSIS 1.2 (Crytek/EA), DirectX 10.0, shaders 4.0, 'Very High' settings, 'Rescue' level; batch file, e-mail us to obtain the timedemo.
  • CRYSIS Warhead (Crytek/EA), DirectX 10.0, shaders 4.0, 'Very High' settings, 'Cargo' level; batch file, e-mail us to obtain the timedemo.
  • Company Of Heroes Opposing Fronts (Relic Entertainment/THQ) -- DirectX 10.0, shaders 4.0, maximum settings; batch file, run the game, invoke graphics settings and click the test button.
  • World In Conflict 1.007 (Massive Entertainment/Sierra) -- DirectX 10.0, shaders 4.0, 'Very High' settings with adjusted AA and AF; run the game, invoke graphics settings and click the test button.
  • Devil May Cry 4 (CAPCOM) -- DirectX 10.0, 'Super High' settings with adjusted AA and AF; Scene 1.
  • Lost Planet Extreme Condition Colonies Edition (CAPCOM) -- DirectX 10.0, 'Super High' settings (with adjusted AA and AF); Scene 1.

Note that performance diagrams are located on dedicated pages.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky

Performance charts: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.



World In Conflict

Performance charts: World In Conflict



CRYSIS, Rescue, DX10, Very High

Performance charts: CRYSIS, Rescue, DX10, Very High



CRYSIS Warhead, Cargo, DX10, Very High

Performance charts: CRYSIS Warhead, Cargo, DX10, Very High



Far Cry 2

Performance charts: Far Cry 2



Company Of Heroes

Performance charts: CoH



3DMark Vantage, Graphics MARKS

Performance charts: 3DMark Vantage, Graphics MARKS



Devil May Cry 4, SCENE1

Performance charts: Devil May Cry 4, SCENE1



Lost Planet EC Colonies, SCENE1

Performance charts: Lost Planet EC Colonies, SCENE1



Conclusions

ATI RADEON HD 5870 1024MB is a superb graphics card in its price range (its recommended price for the end of September, 2009, was 399 USD). This product easily outperforms its competitor form the same price range (GeForce GTX 285) and sometimes even catches up with the more expensive GeForce GTX 295. And the unprecedented overclocking allows this new single-GPU card to compete with the dual-GPU GTX 295.

The new model performs well in games and in synthetic tests. The HD 5870 shows strong results in synthetic tests even in comparison with the dual-GPU cards from previous generations, often being faster! It's noticeably faster than single-GPU cards and the old HD 4800 in all cases. Cypress is evidently a successful product, the most powerful among existent solution.

What concerns test results obtained in Company of Heroes, the twofold difference appears there, because the ATI driver wouldn't disable VSync in this game in Windows Vista, even though this option is disabled. So performance of all ATI cards in this game is limited to 60-Hz refresh rate, so it's impossible to get more than 60 fps. We hope that programmers will fix this bug. Besides, we may remove this test from our procedure soon.

The most illustrative tests are Crysis (both versions) and FarCry2. They show the true worth of the new ATI (AMD) product. Besides, tests of the HD 5870 operating at the reduced HD 4890 frequency (in order to compare both products at the same frequencies) reveal no bottlenecks in memory bandwidth. Moreover, the 48xx had very high memory bandwidth for the cores, and its insignificant increase in the 58xx only balances GPU and local video memory. As we can see, the core has grown by almost two times, while memory bandwidth has grown only by 25%. However, we don't see twofold performance gains versus the 4890. Perhaps, performance is limited by something in high resolutions. Probably by memory bandwidth.

The HD 5870 has got several new functions and improvements. First of all, it's sterling support for DirectX 11 (it's the very first graphics card that has this technology). For two, it's improved quality of anisotropic filtering, angle of view has no effect anymore (we'll cover this topic in one of the next articles about the HD 58xx). Besides, all advantages of the fast AA available in the 4xxx series have been preserved.

Another important feature for gamers is support for three monitors. That is, it's not just an extended desktop or movies. Games are supported as well. The driver currently supports over 30 titles, which can be displayed in a single wide field on three monitors. That is a gamer can buy three identical monitors, install them next to each other and get a stunning effect when you plunge into the game world. We should compare this effect to the famous stereo effect from NVIDIA (GeForce 3D-Vision) and see which technology feels better (yours truly have already seen the stereo image of 3D-Vision, and it was very impressive, now we should play with three monitors -- we hope that we'll soon publish an article about these two technologies).

There are no sterling games for DirectX 11 yet, of course. So we can compare games only in DirectX 10. So our today's tests are only preliminary. We'll get back to this topic, as more DX11 games appear. DX11 comparisons will be honest only after NVIDIA launches its own card supporting this version. As for now, ATI RADEON HD 5870 is the one and only king of 3D graphics among single-GPU solutions. However, considering low production volume of the GTX 295, which is not much faster at that, we can say that the 5870 X2 gets its crown even before it's born. The 5870 X2 will have no competitors whatsoever, unless NVIDIA roll out worthy solutions by that time.

Now about several drawbacks: first of all, this card is very long due to its cooling system (it could have been possible to come up with a different design not to exceed the PCB length). It applies series restrictions on PC enclosure dimensions. The second problem, actually a peculiarity, is peak power consumption of 190W. Such graphics cards will be bought by owners of powerful PSUs, so it's not a problem. And here goes a huge advantage -- power consumption drops to 27W (!) in 2D mode with no heavy load owing to power saving technologies integrated into the core.

This card is very good anyway, and it produces only positive impressions. This new product from AMD starts a new DirectX 11 competition. Besides, it performs very well with DX10, too. We are looking forward to NVIDIA's response.


We express our gratitude to AMD for the provided graphics card.
The PSU has been provided by TAGAN, the monitor has been provided by NVIDIA.

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